DSWD counters study findings: ‘Sufficient’ aid given to Mindoro oil spill victims

In response to a study indicating a lack of aid, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that “sufficient assistance in different forms” has been provided to communities affected by the Mindoro oil spill.

The DSWD said that in partnership with the local government units, it was able to provide the needed assistance to fisherfolks and other residents in Oriental Mindoro.

“The Department emphasized that through its good partnership with the LGUs (local government units) in the affected areas, sufficient assistance, in different forms, was provided to fisherfolks and other residents in Oriental Mindoro,” it said.

A study conducted by environmental coalition Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment showed that a great majority of the people surveyed said the aid they received was “insufficient.” The same study showed that more than 90 percent of affected families in Oriental Mindoro “do not earn enough to meet their family’s needs.”

The DSWD disagreed.

“In fact, the latest report from DSWD revealed that more than P137.3 million worth of humanitarian aid was distributed to the affected families in the province,” the state social welfare agency said.

The DSWD said the aid includes family food packs and financial assistance.

“To date, more than 74,300 food packs have been provided to the different municipalities in Oriental Mindoro. The DSWD is now on its fourth wave of the provision of (family food packs),” the agency added.

It said a cash-for-work program was also implemented to provide temporary livelihood to affected individuals. “Currently, more than 14,000 affected individuals, who have been identified by their LGUs, were engaged by the DSWD and already received their initial salaries equivalent to their regional daily minimum wage,” the DSWD said.

At the same time, a total of 11,365 individuals received P3,000 to P5,000 through the agency’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations program, the agency said.

But the study, which covered 400 respondents across six barangays in Calapan City and Pola, showed that while most residents received aid over the past few weeks, the assistance came mainly in the form of food. Other needs such as hygiene supplies for infants or money for allowances and transportation for children going to school were not addressed, it added.

“The scale of the impacts are immense, which really shows the need for immediate and more comprehensive action responding to the needs of the people. Civil society is doing what we can but this is not enough,” said Berto Alinea of Serve the People Corps – Southern Tagalog, a nongovernment organization which participated in the study.

“We need the national government to improve and hasten its response, especially in terms of addressing the socio-economic impacts. We enjoin the Mindoreños in seeking accountability to RDC Reield Marine Services for the grave ecological and environmental impacts caused by the oil spill,” he said.

MORE: Study: 90% of Mindoreños hit by oil spill struggling to meet family needs

The MT Princess Empress was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank off the coast of Naujan on February 28, causing a massive oil spill. More than 36,000 families have been affected in 163 barangays in Mimaropa, Calabarzon, and Western Visayas regions. The ill-fated tanker was owned by the RDC Reield Marine Services.

A fishing ban has been imposed in the towns of Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan, Bansud, Gloria, Roxas, Mansalay, Bongabong, and Bulalacao in Oriental Mindoro due to the presence of oil and grease in water samples.

The DSWD said all sectors, both public and private, need to work together to provide responsive programs and services to the victims of the oil spill.

“Despite the different roles and mandates, the Department calls for all sectors, including the government at all levels, private groups, and civil society organizations to work together in providing responsive programs and services to ensure that the affected population can bounce back from the impact of the oil spill on their livelihood,” the DSWD said.

MORE: Villar pushes for aid to 22,000 families hit by Mindoro oil spill

Mindoro oil spill
Photo courtesy of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

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